Kenny Lepping is an experienced music producer, programmer, enthusiast, performer, and percussionist focusing on innovative ways to perform and produce music. Using his proficiency in music technology and programming, he is skilled in overcoming technical challenges, quickly learning new software and programming concepts, composing music, designing sound, and interacting with visuals using musical instruments along with live video editing.
My thesis is called Drumthesia. It‘s a system where music visualizers react to electronic drums in real-time. It’s unique because it allows me to apply multiple effects to videos live as I play the drums and trigger music. In a live concert or DJ setting, I am able to use electronic drums to precisely control or edit projected visuals during a performance. As a live video stream, I can edit the live broadcast in real-time using electronic instruments. At any given time, I am using pre-made video loops edited live, algorithmically generated music visualizers, or both simultaneously.
What was the overarching problem or challenge and how did you solve it?
The overarching challenge was finding a way to edit videos using electronic drums, keyboards, and control knobs. Live music performance is usually paired with pre-made and pre-edited videos so I wanted to be able to interact with visuals by playing an instrument. I solved this challenge by linking MIDI signals to music visualizers and video loops.
Development process and tools
My development process is to test many video effects and pick the ones that are easily noticed when using a limited amount of control surfaces. The control surfaces I use the most are eight drum pads on an Octapad SPD-30. An important aspect of this project is randomizing video effects to create interesting visuals. Randomizing these effects gives me more time to play the drums normally, rather than controlling everything manually with one hand not drumming and turning knobs to apply video effects for example. I also use OBS (Open Broadcast Software) to capture all of the visuals from the various applications I am using.
Inspirations for this project include the live video editor TheSushiDragon, AFISHAL, and Michael Schack. I am also always inspired to push the boundaries of existing technology discovering new and useful ways it can be used and provide value to others.
How does this play into your professional/creative goals? What do you want to do with this, after this?
I plan on creating videos for YouTube, live-streaming, and DJing live. I also plan on remixing visuals from other media and coding custom shaders.
How is this work likely to impact the world beyond TCNJ?
This is likely to impact the world beyond TCNJ because it is transforming how music is performed live making it more visually appealing. This interactive system allows the notes played on an instrument to interact with and create visuals rather than solely create music enhancing live music performance. Also, the live-streaming and video creation industry is more popular than it's ever been so my application of visuals and drumming provides an enjoyable and unique experience.
Biggest challenge/hurdle you overcame and how?
The biggest challenge was finding a way to simplify the control system I made, while still being able to create and interact with complex visuals. In the past, I would be playing drums, turning MIDI control knobs, and pressing keys of a MIDI keyboard all at the same time, which felt unnatural. To overcome this challenge, I simplified my control system to only hitting drum pads for controlling the visuals and adding randomization to the video effects simplifying the system, while still being able to effectively interact with visuals.
How you adapted to COVID situation
Previously, my project focused on having visuals projected behind me or off to the side, while I am playing the drums. I adapted to the COVID situation by focusing more on webcam and live video streaming technology. In turn, my project now incorporates more live video editing using shaders as a form of triggering and interacting with visuals.